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US strategic rare earth reserve closer after key Chinese exporter stops production

A temporary production stoppage by China's largest rare earth exporter makes the creation of an American rare earth stockpile more likely, according to a report by dealReporter that appeared in yesterday's FT. The stoppage was a "wake-up call" for the US Department of Defense because the rare earth elements are needed for a variety of defense applications, writes dealReporter, citing a congressional source. The article quotes congressional sources and three rare earth companies saying that "the creation of a US rare earth strategic reserve is more likely to get the go-ahead after (Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (SHA:600111)) halted production. Such a move would create another source of demand for the metals, likely aiding a rebirth of the US rare earths industry."

96% of non-Chinese rare earth projects will fail, says Jack Lifton

A mining industry consultant says the high processing costs and level of expertise required in bringing rare earth mines into production means most of them will fail. In an interview with Reuters, Jack Lifton, founder of Technology Metals Research, said of the 244 companies hoping to extract REEs, less than 4% will be profitable: "The choke point for all the companies is the question of what they can do with the concentrated REM ore once it's above ground. You can extract the rare earths together, but then you have to separate them...the world's REM separation capacity is 99 percent Chinese and they have unused capacity," Lifton said. "The Chinese overwhelmingly control this and that is the key to the rare earth industry. Without separation capacity, all you have is a loss-making ore concentrate company."

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Molycorp spends $114 million to accelerate rare earth production by three months

Molycorp (NYSE:MCP), the only rare earth producer in the Western hemisphere, announced on Thursday that it plans to spend $114 million to accelerate by three months the start-up of its rare earth processing facility. Molycorp's stock slid on Thursday after the news. After hitting a high of $40.45 on Wednesday, the stock dropped as low as $36.59 before recovering to close at just under $38. The company's estimated 2012 production will rise by 3,500 metric tons to between 8,000 and 10,000 metric tons annually. The new spending will help the company achieve full phase one production of 19,050 metric tons per year of rare earth oxide equivalent three months earlier than previously planned.

Charge time for an electric car dropped to just 10 minutes

In the race to make electric cars a viable alternative to internal combustion engines, Nissan announced that it had developed technology to charge a car in 10-minutes. The time it takes to charge a car is seen as a major hurdle to widespread acceptance of electric cars. With the current technology, it can take several hours to recharge an electric car. Kansai University in Japan is credited with inventing the technology.

Pentagon should stockpile rare earth materials: Coffman

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, is pushing the US Department of Defense for the establishment of a national inventory of rare earth materials. “I support the procurement of such high-demand, at-risk rare earth materials to help fulfill Department of Defense (DOD) requirements and therefore reduce supply-chain vulnerability. By using the Annual Materials Plans as a vehicle, the Department can identify critical rare earth oxides, alloys, metals, or magnets, depending on what best suits DOD’s needs, and then fulfill a portion or the entirety of the associated requirements,” Coffman wrote in a letter to Ronnie Favors, the administrator of the DLA Strategic Materials.

IAMGOLD plans to keep on buying

IAMGOLD Corporation, which produces nearly one million ounces of gold each year, is looking is looking for projects capable of 150,000/oz of gold per year and has two million oz of reserves. The company made the announcement during a corporate presentation in October. Bloomberg reported that the company is looking for transactions in the range of $300 million to $500 million.

China slaps heavy new tax on coking coal, rare earths

Reuters reports China will extend a resource tax – calculated on value rather than volume of production – on domestic sales of crude oil and natural gas from some regions to the whole country and expand the list of taxable resources to coking coal and rare earths from November 1. The move, billed as a way of conserving resources and limiting environmental damage, is part of a long-awaited tax reform that would enrich the coffers of local governments but slash the earnings of resource companies, such as PetroChina Co, China National Petroleum Corp and Baotou Steel Rare Earths by billions of dollars each year. The tax on rare-earth ores will be levied according to a wide range of between yuan 0.4 – 60 per ton and between yuan 8 – 20 a tonne on coking coal.